7 Active-Learning Strategies for Higher Education

Higher Education

Active Learning Strategies enable the faculty and learners to learn, grow, gain knowledge and engage in activities based on ideas in the best effective ways.

According to the statistics, the concept of Active-learning classrooms has gained attention and growth way beyond imagination since the past few years. It has not only evolved the educational methods and helped the students but has also helped the pedagogy in many ways. It has changed the way and methods of learning. An Active Learning Strategy enables the faculty and learners to learn, grow, gain knowledge and engage in activities based on ideas in the best effective ways.

Many universities have started considering the concept of Active Learning Classroom as very beneficial for student outcomes; they, therefore are investing massively for the transformation of their age-old traditional classroom into an active-learning classroom. It helps in catalyzing student engagement but also their responsiveness and confidence. It motivates both the teachers and the students to work harder and perform better.

Numerous active learning strategies may be used in each of the active learning designs. Here’s a list of seven active-learning strategies helpful for pedagogy especially in the higher education field.

1. Facilitation of a whole group discussion

  • Listening to the responses of the students carefully.
  • Asking students to elaborate on their answers and thinking by giving explanations, evidence, or clarifications.
  • Staying neutral in your reaction to the comments of students’.
  • Encouraging others to respond and react to the ideas by providing different viewpoints, agreements or disagreements.

2. Turn and Talk Sessions

Having a turn and talk session plays a major role in an active-learning classroom. In such a session, a question is asked to the class and students simply turn to the person next to them to discuss the answer.

  • This serves as an interactive session of the students amongst themselves and makes it easy for the teacher to understand the students.
  • It is a comfortable way and an initial stage for students to share and discuss their ideas with others and set the stage for them by sharing their perspectives with the larger group.
  • It is not necessary for the teacher to hear all (or any) of the ideas shared as the important motive of this strategy is for the peers to share and for students to access their prior knowledge about the particular topic.
  • You can ask students to turn to someone next to them and discuss their responses and perspectives to the following question and give them a time limit.
  • It helps the teachers to understand how his/her students are interacting with each other and what they need to learn and understand more. It motivates develops confidence and improves the communication skills of the students.

3. Technology Support and Management

  • In an active-learning classroom, one of the most basic and important things needed is proper management of technology.
  • Without upgrading the technology of the classroom it is difficult to adopt the new methods of teaching and learning.  
  • Lack of appropriate technological management may lead to hindrance in the working of the devices and connection required, which might also lead to hindrance in communication amongst the teachers and students as well.
  • Also, the digital tools which are needed by the pedagogy in the incorporation into their planning are only possible when the access to technology is consistent.

4. Repurpose of  Existing Items in Active-learning classroom Design

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  • Universities can also upgrade the existing infrastructure and spaces for the facilitation of active learning.
  • Instead of the construction of a new building or space, reusing of the same building with the new purpose of an active-learning classroom can be done.
  • This proves to be economical and also students can be surrounded in engaging classroom technology.

5. Polling

  • Polling is a strategy of an active-learning classroom which enables the teachers to know and group the students according to the different explanations/answers they carry.
  • It is all about giving the students the opportunities to discuss their ideas with peers, and then to vote again leads to greater learning of the material.
  • It is important to make students discuss why their explanation is the most accurate and also why the other explanations are not accurate. It helps the teachers in building the co-operative attitude amongst the students.
  • Also, it is important that the teacher analyses the polling results and listens to the explanations and the reasoning of the students for their answers in order to determine what further explanations and summary will be needed to make in lecture.

6. Individual and Group Quizzes

  • The ability to answer, reason and compete is a major aspect of an active-learning strategy. This can be made possible giving students quizzes that they complete individually and submit it to be graded.
  • Immediately after the individual quiz, the same should be taken as a group quiz by putting the students in small groups. The students then should be allowed to discuss the answers in their group and submit it in for a group score.
  • Both the quizzes should then be graded and if the group score is higher, the two grades are averaged.
  • There is no discouragement if in case the individual score is higher than the group score.
  • This strategy helps the teachers to understand and analyze the students in a better way.

7. Tests/Quizzes with common misconceptions as distracters

  • Assessments should be Designed in such a way that they include common misconceptions that students often hold.
  • Students should be allowed to answer the question on their own and then discuss their answer with a partner.
  • Make them answer the question again after the peer discussion.
  • Conduct a whole group discussion about why the correct answer is correct and why the others are not.
  • Common misconceptions students have about different topics and concepts should be discussed and explained appropriately.

So, here was the list of the 7 Active-Learning Strategies for Higher Education for the teachers and faculty. These strategies for an active-learning classroom are very necessary and beneficial for the teachers and the students in the long-run.

What more advantages to they hold and how this concept evolves is yet to be seen in the future.

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